Some politicians will do anything to keep more of your money. This year, the legislature is going above and beyond to not only deceive voters, but to try to take away our ability to even vote on Proposition 120, as written.
Prop 120’s ballot language clearly states that it is a $1.03 billion property tax cut for both residential and non-residential property. That language was approved by the Colorado Supreme Court before it was officially placed on the ballot. The legislature then passed a bill to try to thwart the ballot measure. They also sent out the Blue Book – which says the tax cut only applies to multi-family and lodging properties – hoping that it would confuse voters enough to get them to vote no. Thankfully, the actual ballot language is what matters legally, not the Blue Book. If Prop 120 passes, we will take on the legislature in the courts to make sure everyone gets the tax cut that they voted for.
Proposition 120 is so important for Coloradans because property taxes are skyrocketing. Earlier this year, most Coloradans saw double-digit increases to the value of their properties (and their property taxes). This increase has a big impact on everyone – but especially seniors, people on fixed incomes, and families living paycheck to paycheck. And higher property taxes not only affect homeowners, but also renters. When property taxes go up, that increase gets passed on to tenants.
Proposition 120 would also cut commercial property taxes, which is important for Colorado’s small businesses. Colorado’s commercial property rate is almost twice as high as Utah, and three times as high as Wyoming, according to a study by the Common Sense Institute. Unfortunately, Colorado’s unemployment rate is stuck at the 35th worst in the country. As we build our economy back after the pandemic, we must be cognizant of the burdens we are placing on our small businesses.
It’s the perfect time for this property tax cut because government is overflowing with money right now. State and local governments have received over $12 billion in federal stimulus funds – adding billions of new dollars into our education system. On top of that, state revenue has bounced back so much that we are projected to get $3 billion in refunds under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) over the next 3 years. This ensures that Proposition 120 would only slow the growth of government, not actually cut it.
And as a big TABOR supporter, I was glad to help the campaign to defeat Proposition CC in 2019 (which would have ended TABOR refunds forever). Proposition 120 would do nothing to undermine TABOR. All it does is allows the state to retain $25 million for the Homestead Exemption for seniors and disabled veterans. However, currently, the first chunk of TABOR refund money already goes to the Homestead Exemption. Since the legislature has ignored the constitutional mandate to fund the Homestead Exemption on several occasions, this $25 million will help incentivize them to actually fund it.
Proposition 120 is the right first step to get property taxes under control. I would encourage you to follow the Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board’s suggestion: “Cut taxes — defy politicians. Vote Yes on Prop 120.”
Michael Fields is the Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action and a sponsor of Proposition 120
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